Friday, August 5, 2011

Playing It By Ear by Rod Garcia

Lady Behind the Counter

Tessie Alarcon sat behind the registration counter working on little ticket stubs for a function celebrating Philippine Independence.
Not too many of the guests knew the truth about this inconspicuous, tiny figure.
But Tessie and her friends are responsible for having fed over two thousand 
five hundred malnourished children in the Philippines.

She's at an age for enjoying a cruise in the caribbean. But with other intrepid retirees, Tessie has taken a rinkydink bangka and crossed deep waters to distribute gifts, food, or  medicine to children in some remote Philippine island. She's done this several times.
This sense of mission started over a decade ago. Tessie and her husband Pablito were enjoying a meal in a small restaurant in Laguna. A small grungy boy of  nine (9) in a tattered t-shirt came up to their window and gawked  open-mouthed at the food, obviously very hungry.
The couple waved the boy in and let him eat with them. They also had a clean t-shirt they were planning to give to some relative's son. But they decided to let this boy wear it. And he did, with a palpable pride in his face. Later, in a way to repay their kindness, the boy helped slow down oncoming traffic, waving and signalling like a cop, so the couple could drive their car out of the parking spot. The incident taught them that even children can learn to earn. 
And so aside from all the charity work, Tessie and her posse have also sponsored nineteen (19) livelihood projects in the Philippines;built ninety-one (91) modern classrooms (with six more to come); distributed two hundred thousand (200,000) books to public schools and libraries; gave one hundred fifty (150) students educational scholarships to high schools and universities; and donated twenty (20) sets of computers and other IT equipment.
And they're still at it.
Tessie is the founder of Washington D.C.-based Feed The Hungry, Inc., which has now blossomed into chapters in Hawaii, Nevada, and Manila itself.
Her sense of mission is infectious. Many doers and shakers have joined the action as board members or operatives. Among them financial whiz Martin Gaw; FilAm activitist dynamo Gloria Caoile, and cerebral Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Del Rosario and his grand-hearted wife Gretchen, to name a few. (Even inconsequential folks like me found a place: Tessie asked help with the legal stuff; and adopted my composition "Ako" as Feed The Hungry's theme song.")
This little lady behind the counter received the Pilipino Presidential Award from President Noynoy Aquino last year(Lingkod Sa Kapwa), adding to other recognitions in previous years.
Where does one find proof that the Filipino is worth dying for? Neither in the halls of political power in Malacanang nor in the money of Makati.
But in humble servant hearts of everyday people like that lady behind the counter ----- who  would have a sign above her that states: Now Serving --- The Poor.
Rod Garcia
by Rod Garcia
Hindi mo ba alam
Na nandoon AKO noon
Nang ika'y nagiisa't nagtatanong?
Hindi ka nagtaka
Kung kanino ang awit?
Nakatakap ka sa lupa,
Ang tingin mo'y sa langit.
Kaya't nang ika'y naglalakad
Sa lamig, nagiisa,
AKO'Y nagaalalay
Sa iyo.
Masakit sa kalooban;
Matamlay sa pagtingin;
Pagasa mo na lamang ay AKO.
Pagmasdan mo ang paligid mo;
Mapapansin mo rin.
May na ngangailangan sa iyo.
Siya'y iyong kusang bigyan ng tanging pagtingin
And tinutulungan mo'y

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